Spectator editorial: Holy law

Two appeals involving the exhibition of the Ten Commandments outside public courthouses were heard by the Supreme Court Wednesday, according to a CNN.com article.

One of the cases argued for the permanent display of the religious laws on a six-foot marble monument between the capitol and judicial buildings in Austin, Texas. The other was an appeal of the decision against posting copies of the King James version of the Ten Commandments in two Kentucky county courtrooms, according to the article.

Lawyers representing the federal, state and county governments argued the 4,000 displays of the Decalogue in public courthouses and parks nationwide simply acknowledge the role a higher authority has played in the development of the United States. Others say such displays violate the First Amendment by representing a governmental endorsement of religion.

In 1980, the high court ruled it unconstitutional to post the Ten Commandments in public school classrooms, and the same should apply to all governmental buildings including courthouses. While the commandments should be appreciated as a historical document, the precedent set by Stone v. Graham more than 20 years ago serves as an important barrier between government and religion.

The line separating church and state is undeniably fine as many non-secular traditions are reflected in the government, from our currency to the opening prayer said before legislative sessions. However, allowing the Ten Commandments to be displayed in courthouses crosses that line.

It is the job of a representative democracy to act on the behalf of all citizens, not just those who are Christian. To rule in favor of allowing distinctly religious displays on public grounds creates a climate of unacceptance that is decidedly undemocratic.